This morning, Valve finally made their long-awaited Steam box announcement, although details at this point in time are sketchy at best. Here’s what we do know, though.
Valve are working with “multiple partners” to bring a range of Steam gaming machines to market in 2014, all of them running the company’s recently announced SteamOS operating system. While these products are currently in development, Valve intend to let people try them out and make changes based on user feedback.
As such, they’ve designed a “high-performance prototype” that is optimized for Steam gaming in the living room. This year, the company will ship 300 of these prototype machines to Steam users, free of charge, for beta testing. Valve say that the games available to these machines will consist of the nearly 3,000 games available on Steam—which will be playable via streaming from your PC, since SteamOS is Linux-based, not Windows—in addition to games that can run natively on the system.
While Valve have not yet provided hardware specs for their prototype, they say they’ll share more information on this front soon. Ultimately, however, they say that there will be several SteamOS machines to choose from, all with a range of specifications, price and performance. While Valve’s prototype machine is focused on users that want the most control over their hardware, other machines will optimize for things like price, quietness and other factors.
Keeping in line with their intent to allow user control over the hardware, Valve say you’ll be able to “hack” these boxes, run other operating systems on them, and even change the hardware. Eventually, you’ll also be able to download the SteamOS operating system itself, along with the source code.
You can read further details on Valve’s prototype Steam-powered machine on this page, along with details of how to enter the beta for the prototype hardware.